Recently, I read where someone had lost their father after a long battle with dementia. The son wrote that he had spent the better part of almost three years being with his father and taking care of him on a journey that no one wants to go on but unfortunately, many of us have to.
He added that since his father had passed, he wasn’t sure what he would do with all the time he now had on his hand and would figure out as he went along. Anyone that has taken care of a loved one can certainly empathize in ways you never wanted to.
My mother passed in June of 2011 and for the better part of about three years as well, my brother and I spent a lot of time taking care of our mom. She was also battling dementia and Alzheimer’s and whatever they want to call that terrible disease from which there is no return. We ended up having to put her in a nursing home which to this day, the toughest thing I ever had to do
We would alternate going to see her just so that someone was almost always there in case she needed anything at that moment. This routine went on and on and on. It was our mom, what are you going to do?
You have heard the phrase “muscle memory,” I am sure. It is the ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, acquired as a result of frequent repetition of that movement. That is what going to see our mom was for me and my brother. We also would as much as we can, meet for dinner or a quick meal just to keep each other sane.
Every Friday night, while I was working at channel 2, I would anchor the sportscast at 6, get off, head to the nursing home until about 8:45 and head back to put the 10 P.M. sportscast together.
Mom passed on a Sunday night and we laid her to rest on the following Thursday. That Friday, I did my sportscast, got in my car drove to the nursing home. Pulled in, got out and went in. I sat in the lobby and waited for my brother because we had plans to meet for that quick dinner just to catch up.
“Hey! Where are you?” Silence on the phone for about 5 seconds. “I am at home, why?” “I am at the nursing home, going to check on mom and I thought we would meet for dinner here.” Another 5 seconds of silence. “Brother, mom is not there. We buried her yesterday.” Now it was my turn to be silent. “Hello? Joe, are you there?” “Yes, I am sorry. I completely forgot.” “Stay there, I am coming up.”
We sat in the parking lot for an hour and just laughed. That moment with him always reminds me of the great Jimmy Buffet and his line, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”
To all the caretakers out there who go through this on a daily basis and feel as if there is no end in sight, keep fighting and punching. You have a lot of people praying for you.